No Sideways in Life; only forward or back

 No Sideways in Life; only forward or back

My daughters are at the age that they still like me, still laugh at my jokes, still hold my hand. However my wife and I see the glimmer of the teenage years and the changes that sometimes come. I like to think my kids are well adjusted and that even though change will come, we’ll all still be close.

In any case, I’m trying to cram in a variety of things while they are still receptive….things like important values on life; inspiration, encouragement, independence, confidence, ….getting them to think about focusing on things to pursue some level of mastery or at least competence….having a good sense of humor….thinkining good thoughts….and yes, sharing the love of my geekness.

What do I mean by the latter? I am trying to get them to appreciate some good movies and books….anything from the Power of One, The Help, The Insider, Ten Commandments, True Lies, Rocky, Rear Window, Indiana Jones, Apollo 13, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings,  (which I loved as a kid), to more romantic ones like Sleepless in Seattle, Affair to Remember, You’ve Got Mail (my wife and I like it together), to funny movies like Ace Ventura, Naked Gun,  to all the great comic book related movies like Iron Man, Superman, Spiderman, Batman, etc.

I was joking a bit about Superman one day with them and then I thought of a serious point I read somewhere in the world of comicbook geekdom….something like “Superman really isn’t that courageous, he is almost invincible, he has little chance of failing…everyday people are truly courageous, or have the opportunity to be courageous, because we are vulnerable and we can fail just as easily as we can succeed.”

I tried to relate that to a life lesson and got a bit carried away but I wanted to run with it…..

We then spoke about being shy, intimidated, scared, and how do you handle fear? Specifically we spoke of the fear of failure, of embarrassment, of losing or making mistakes.

I wanted to try to get them to look at life from a different perspective. I asked them to take a look at what life will look like not if you try and fail…but if you if you just accept the conditions and don’t take chances, don’t take actions and have some courage, and especially if you let it go on for decades. That’s the real nightmare scenario for most people.

In my opinion, we all have to continuously improve. Maybe I’m neurotic or maybe I have a self-image problem but I constantly try to improve me. I sometimes fool myself, or loaf a bit, or I may even regress but I know that long term, I am better than the old me. As many authors have stated, “Simple fact, there is no sideways, no coasting…no neutral.”

I believe that there is no stopping the need to improve, or at least work on all key parts of your life; spiritual growth, career, relationships, business, frienships, health…. There’s only up or down

We all experience times when things go well or move ahead. We experience times when things seem to fail all around us. Author Jonathan Fields provides a quote about this, “Either way, the speed and magnitude of the change in the way we experience life is so great and, often, so outwardly apparent, that we – or those around us – are moved to act to either support or redirect our trajectory. Action in the context of such powerful movement is a near mandate.”

As Fields notes, the most ‘dangerous’ periods are those times when we’re sliding ever-so-slowly up or down? For whatever reasons, we’re at a point in our lives because of momentum or inertia. We sometimes get to a point where we think life is good and we don’t want to rock the boat – if it isn’t broken, why fix it?  Sometimes we might get to a point where we even say “hey, my _____ isn’t great, but it’s not THAT bad. Who cares if I’m a little fatter, poorer, lazier, sicker and in just a bit more pain. It’s not such a big deal.”

That is a terrible thing we’ve all slipped into from time to time. Call it complacency, call it whatever. There is no coasting. There is no neutral. No sideways.

As Jonathan Fields says in his article ‘There is No Sideways in Life’.  “It’s a myth, an illusion. There’s only up or down.”

Fields says, “Your currently “passable” life becomes increasingly painful as you enter the long, slow slide toward death. Because you failed to accept the knowledge that there is no sideways, there is only up or down. Even if the pace is slow, barely detectable. There’s no such thing as sideways.”

Tony Robbins, Fields, Oprah, and countless classic philosophers have said it in one way or another, you need to have better questions like, “What if I succeed?…What if I do nothing?”

This is where you build a vision, make it strong and vivid. Add emotion, then consistently repeat it over and over. Think about it as if you’re already there. Think of it as how you’ll feel looking back to when you didn’t have it and feel the accomplishment. How good will you feel?

Think about what actions, even a small one, can you do today to work to that image, that vistion. And, the next time you feel like momentum, inertia, sideways, coasting…neutral is enough. Think again. It takes courage to take action, to get out of that comfortable spot….

Have courage, us the courage to move towards your dream, however big or small. Whether it’s just talking to someone at a social event, making a call, writing or creating, taking a chance. We’re all scared. Veteran rock stars and movie stars admit that they still get scared or nervous even after years of experience.

Courage is often confused as people who have no fear and just move ahead. ON the contrary, courage is when there is fear and we overcome that fear, even just for a moment, and then move ahead to take action, to do something we once would not have done.

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